After three jam packed days in Florence & Tuscany, I was definitely ready to slow down the pace a bit. Bologna was just what the doctor ordered. We let ourselves sleep in a bit and so even though it was only about a 35 minute train ride on the high speed train from Florence, we didn’t make it to Bologna until almost 11:30am. We checked into our hotel and headed out to explore a bit before finding a place to get lunch. The first thing we noticed about Bologna was how arcades, covered walkways, lined almost every street. The architecture of the arcades was beautiful and walking in the shade was a welcome change too. We wandered to Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square, and then past one of Bologna’s remaining canals before heading to La Montanara for lunch.
Since we only had about an hour for lunch before our excursion to the Gelato Museum, we just ordered one course. While my tortellini in brodo was delicious, I definitely had some serious meal envy of those around us who had gotten meat plates. Overall, it was a great place for lunch because it had a great ambiance and all the traditional Bolognese foods.
Next up on the agenda was the Gelato Museum, which honestly is the major reason I started looking into Bologna in the first place. We hopped on the bus and took the 40 minute ride out to Carpigiani Gelato Museum where we had a 3pm appointment for the Discovering Gelato tour which included not only a guided tour of the museum, but also a tasting and sorbetto making lesson. The museum was very interesting, especially for a foodie and ice cream/gelato lover like me. The highlight, however, was definitely the Sorbetto making lesson which took place in their gelato shop. We started off the lesson by picking out some gelato to try and then dove right into learning about the differences between gelato and ice cream along with the differences between gelatos and sorbettos. Our teacher, Brunella, was awesome and by the end of the lesson, we had tasted quite few different flavors of gelato and sorbetto, including a cantaloupe sorbetto we made during the lesson which was amazing (which coming from someone who doesn’t like cantaloupe is saying a lot). I had also learned about what types of sugar, water, & fruit ratios to use for different types of fruit and that the secret to great gelato is getting the right mix of three sugars: sucrose, glucose, and dextrose.
Before I knew it, we were on the bus back to Bologna where we relaxed for a bit while deciding where to go for dinner. After a some research, I stumbled across Trattoria dal Biassanot and knew it was the perfect place to try once I saw that they had a pasta tasting menu that would allow us to try out all three of Bologna’s major specialties: tortellini in brodo, tagliatelle bolognese,and lasagna. In addition to the tasting menu, we also split a meat platter which included another Bolognese specialty, Mortadella and washed it down with some Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine the region is known for.
I capped off a great day in Bologna by heading back to Piazza Maggiore to get some pictures at night. I was greeted, by not only gorgeous views of the buildings lit up, but also live music and lots of people hanging out enjoying the music, atmosphere,and some wine. If I wasn’t already in love with Bologna, by the end of my walk I definitely was!
With only a little more of a half day in Bologna left, we decided to spend our remaining time in Italy’s food capital by taking a Market Tour run through Culinary Factory Tours. We met our guide, Audrey, at 9am and got right to it. Audrey was the perfect tour guide since even though she is an American, she has lived in Italy for almost 25 years and in Bologna for 10 of them. She was able to answer all of our questions about markets, foods, and customs while we strolled the markets picking up items for our picnic lunch. One of the highlights of the tour was our stop at Bar Mercato for coffee. The vibe was great and they introduced me to a coffee drink that actually like, the Marocchino! Another highlight of the tour was our picnic lunch at Osteria del Sole, the oldest bar in Bologna.
Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to Audrey, picking up our luggage, and heading to the train station. After an hour train ride, we were back in Milan and meeting up with my cousins and uncle in Segrate. After running a few errands, we headed over to Osteria dei Fauni for another delicious meal including Mushroom Risotto and an Almond Raspberry cake which was the perfect end to an awesome day.
Only a few more days are left in my Italian adventure so be sure to keep an eye out for posts with #ItalianSoiree2015!